STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Spain Probes Shoppers for Tax Evasion
By Staff News & Analysis - October 29, 2012

Tax crackdown on shoppers in Spain … A Spanish department store has been ordered to hand over transaction details of all customers spending more than 30,000 euros, as part of a crackdown on tax evasion. The ruling applies to all payments made to El Corte Ingles using their branded credit cards between 2006 and 2007. The firm – which has 11.18 million registered card users – had their appeal against the finance ministry request thrown out by Spain's national court. – OlivePress

Dominant Social Theme: Taxes are necessary to civilization and more is better.

Free-Market Analysis: Tax crackdowns are an emerging meme but this news, above, is especially egregious. The powers-that-be use a divide-and-conquer approach when it comes to much business and regulation.

And this approach is increasing. The idea basically is to turn businesses into tax collectors. This increases the stress and strain on society generally as businesses are being asked to do two things: To serve the customer and to report on him.

Of course, it's not just Spain. In the US, governments are routinely telling businesses what to do. Louisiana banned cash transactions for second-hand merchandise – making flea markets illegal, basically. Pawnshops are under a lot of scrutiny, too, and need to report in detail to the government in the US and elsewhere. Mexico, Spain and Italy have banned large cash transactions outright. More from the article:

While it is unclear how many card holders the ruling will apply to, the move is part of a government clampdown on tax evasion in a bid to raise much needed revenue. "From our point of view this is good news, I think the ruling will set a precedent," Tim Taplin, senior advisor at Totus Consulting told the Olive Press.

"It is important for people to pay their taxes in Spain and I think the days of people declaring an income of 1,000 a month while their kids are at private school are gone. "I think this is a sign of the way ahead and we can help clients to get their affairs in order."

The Spanish government's increasing invasiveness when it comes to the private sector is part of a trend for that country. Back in April we reported on moves to ban cash in Spain for tax purposes. The story was entitled, "Spain Bans Cash."

The legislation banned cash transactions over 2,500 euros … "to crack down on the black market and tax evaders." The rationale was that Spain needed every tax dollar available. Here's some more from the April article:

They are not even making a pretense anymore that the West is run via market economies. As we have long predicted, the phony "sovereign debt" crisis in Europe is being used to justify all sorts of authoritarian measures.

It is government pols that gladly borrowed what European banks threw at them. And somehow the upshot earlier this week is that Spanish citizens now lose the right to conduct many transactions in cash.

Spectacularly, the reports such as this one, excerpted above, don't even both to hide the real point. The Spanish government wants to ensure that it can "track transactions and make sure that people and businesses are paying taxes."

Of course, anyone who has visited Spain of late knows that the tax burden in Spain is onerous indeed, and is one reason that the truculent tribes that have co-existed uneasily with Madrid are again beginning to beat the drums of secession.

One looks at the evolving secessionist movement around the world, and especially in Spain, and wonders at what government bureaucrats intend to create.

This in not the 20th century but the 21st. In the Internet era people are increasingly aware of government actions and how they affect the larger society. As taxes become more punitive and their collection more aggressive, people become more resentful as well.

Now, it is possible that the powers-that-be seek this sort of pushback. The idea is that society can be reshaped via the "chaos" that repression inevitably causes. But as every significant outrage seems to turn up on YouTube these days, one could call this strategy into question.

It is a fine line governments are walking by becoming tougher as people's lifestyles diminish. Increasingly, too many may feel squeezed into a corner.

After Thoughts

As we have pointed out before, there seems to be a kind of baiting going on. It may not end well …

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